New Yorker site redesigned  MAR 08 2007

The New Yorker redesign just went live. Not sure if I like it yet, but I don't not like it. Some quick notes after 15 minutes of kicking the tires, starting with the ugly and proceeding from there:

  • Only some of the old article URLs seem to work, which majorly sucks. This one from 2002 doesn't work and neither does this one from late 2005. This David Sedaris piece from 9/2006 does. kottke.org has links to the New Yorker going back to mid-2001...I'd be more than happy to supply them so some proper rewrite rules can be constructed. I'd say that more than 70% of the 200+ links from kottke.org to the New Yorker site are dead...to say nothing of all the links in Google, Yahoo, and 5 million other blogs. Not good.
  • The full text of at least one article (Stacy Schiff's article on Wikipedia) has been pulled from the site and has been replaced by an abstract of the article and the following notice:
    The New Yorker's archives are not yet fully available online. The full text of all articles published before May, 2006, can be found in "The Complete New Yorker," which is available for purchase on DVD and hard drive.
    Not sure if this is the only case or if the all longer articles from before a certain date have been pulled offline. This also is not good.
  • They still default to splitting up their article into multiple pages, but luckily you can hack the URL by appending "?currentPage=all" to get the whole article on one page, like so. Would be nice if that functionality was exposed.
  • The first thing I looked for was the table of contents for the most recent issue because that's, by far, the page I most use on the site (it's the defacto "what's new" page). Took me about a minute to find the link...it's hidden in small text on the right-hand side of the site.
  • There are several RSS options, but there's no RSS autodiscovery going on. That's an easy fix. The main feed validates but with a few warnings. The bigger problem is that the feed only shows the last 10 items, which isn't even enough to cover an entire new issue's worth of stories and online-only extras.
  • A New Yorker timeline. Is this new?
  • Listing of blogs by New Yorker contributors, including Gladwell, SFJ, and Alex Ross.
  • Some odd spacing issues and other tiny bugs here and there. The default font size and line spacing make the articles a little hard to read...just a bit more line spacing would be great. And maybe default to the medium size font instead of the small. A little rough around the edges is all.
  • The front page doesn't validate as XHTML 1.0 Transitional. But the errors are pretty minor...<br> instead of <br />, not using the proper entity for the ampersand, uppercase anchor tags and the like.
  • All articles include the stardard suite of article tools: change the font size, print, email to a friend, and links to Digg, del.icio.us, & Reddit. Each article is also accompanied by a list of keywords which function more or less like tags.
  • Overall, the look of the site is nice and clean with ample white space where you need it. The site seems well thought out, all in all. A definite improvement over the old site.

Thanks to Neil for the heads up on the new site.

Read more posts on kottke.org about:
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There are 34 reader comments

Tom Clancy06 08 2007 3:06PM

There's something so wrong about digg on a New Yorker article. What happened to elitist snobbery? Have we given it up for good? Screw the hoi polloi if they can't find it. Let them discuss the local tabloids at a bus station.

Mark10 08 2007 3:10PM

Overload.

Honestly, as a paying New Yorker subscriber, there's one thing I want the site to do for me, easily: Let me grab the URL of an article to send to a non-subscriber friend.

Sometimes they're there in the contents, often they're not, sometimes I can URL hack to dig one up. Even if delayed a week, seems enabling me to share in such a way might further boost readership.

Steve Rhodes40 08 2007 3:40PM

Yes, it would have been stupid ten years ago to not redirect the old links. Now...

And if they expect people to go back to their New Yorker DVDs (yes, I own them not to mention boxes of the magazine), but as Mark says I use the web to pass tthe articles on to people or link to them in posts (before they had search on tthe site, I'd do a post almost every week with the most interesting articles).

Though some of it still seems to be online like this Dan Baum piece on wounded soldiers. This review of a DFW book isn't, though it can be found at archive.org (as are many others). And some of the writers have articles on their sites - this is the story from your first link above.

I actually wish someone had done a New Yorker style article on the redesign process, so we might have some idea how what I assume were smart people could screw up so badly.

Michael S.19 08 2007 4:19PM

79 out of 91 of my New Yorker pages now 404. I hope they fix this. Sigh. The error page is kinda cute though.

NKander24 08 2007 4:24PM

The smaller type and line spacing are the most bizarre change. Article length here is larger than most online periodicals and many of the articles turn on a phrase.

This prose needs size and white space and a lot of both.

I switch to Firefox, which has the best text resizing, to read them online, although not always with the site in its previous incarnation; not so with the new site, which demands it.

thornyc37 08 2007 4:37PM

Four clicks to see the current cover at any decent size, and completely unintuitive -- it's NOT the thumbnail cover in the upper-right corner.

Matt Haughey53 08 2007 4:53PM

I think it looks great, a huge, huge improvement over what they had. Jason, you point out a lot of small bugs (rss, etc) that I think they can fix quickly. Hopefully they get the archives thing worked out and I'd love to see them move to single-page archives across the board.

It's a lot easier on the eyes overall. One nice trick I noticed was the CSS drop caps within articles. I don't think I've ever seen them done so simply.

Jason Das07 08 2007 5:07PM

Whoosh - "Not sure if I like it yet, but I don't not like it"s sums it up pretty well.

The thing that jumps out at me first is the word "The" added to the logo in the banner. That's not at all how it appears in print, in their actual logo. The "the" is traditionally smaller and centered over the words "New Yorker." Not only did they move it, down and make it big, the shapes of the letters are different. It feels like a different font. Maybe they stretched it?

What a weird way to mess with 80 years of great branding.

jkottke12 08 2007 5:12PM

As Michael notes, one of the nice new features is the cartoons appearing inline with the articles like they do in the magazine.

m sanders19 08 2007 5:19PM

besides the fact that the visual design and layout looks like an amalgamation of nymag.com and nytimes.com, it is impossible to tell what is a link without rolling over the text in the sidebar. i am assuming this obvious oversight will be remedied quickly.

J Gordon32 08 2007 5:32PM

Maybe the biggest problem is that they are sending XHTML over text/html. There are dozens of problems in doing so, most of which are here if you're interested:

http://www.hixie.ch/advocacy/xhtml

Johanna Reed50 08 2007 5:50PM

I've always found their search engine to be frustrating. Seems to me that this would be a priority for modifications. It looks like there's been changes to it, where the exactly-quoted article headline that was inputed now produces the desired result somewhat toward the top, as opposed to on page 3 of 1,000 results.

Jon P.04 08 2007 6:04PM

They didn't move the "The" down from their last redesign. It was always like that on their website:

http://web.archive.org/web/20060906172130/http://www.newyorker.com/

You're just comparing it to the logo in the magazine.

Paul M. Watson24 08 2007 6:24PM

Someone needs to also tell them that the Subscribe menu option (the one higlighted in red) only works, funnily enough, from the 404 page. From other pages it goes to http://www.newyorker.com/menuSubscribe

Joe Clark25 08 2007 6:25PM

They've got SCRIPT scattered all through BODY, and the HTML semantics are poor, with random heading levels. Typography is simply awful.

Nonetheless, it's an improvement. Will printable pages (an anachronism) continue to include the word PRINTABLES in the URL?

Andrew Louis48 08 2007 7:48PM

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned this yet but the article titles are now in the tag. This makes for much easier bookmarking.

Kevin21 08 2007 8:21PM

A few things that jumped out at me.

1) Embedding unrelated cartoons in the middle of articles--obviously this is the classic New Yorker format for the printed page, but it strikes me as weird on a web page. I don't know, I guess it's not a terrible thing, but it seems to conflate the way we consume a print magazine with the way we consume online content. If I want to read the cartoons online, I should be able to click on a "Cartoons" link somewhere.

2) Having to type in a page number and hit Return to jump to that page == weird.

3) All the headings in the classic "New Yorker" font look very nice, but this would be a perfect, textbook use for sIFR. Instead, they're images. Not only does this present accessibility and cutting-and-pasting issues, but it must be a pain on the production side.

4) Similarly: A poem formatted as an image, and when you click on it you get the text? Weird.

Fred Barlow08 08 2007 9:08PM

Actually, the CSS dropcaps are slightly misaligned in Mozilla because because of a Mozilla bug. Mozilla doesn't recognize line-height on :first-letter when it is floated:

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=366359

..even though it really should according to W3C:

http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-CSS2/selector.html#first-letter

Been waiting for Mozilla to fix this one for years now. Even IE5.5 does this correctly.

jkottke32 08 2007 9:32PM

The archive page contains the following note under "Coming Soon":

"Most New Yorker articles since 2001 and selected pieces from before; thousands of brief reviews of books, movies, recordings, and restaurants; and a searchable index, with abstracts, of articles since 1925."

Sounds like they're working on the broken links & missing content and that once they're done, there will be more content on the site than there was before.

Emdashes34 08 200710:34PM

Yeah, I'm told all the links will be working fine very soon.

Rex44 08 200711:44PM

Anyone know if they did it all in-house, or if they had any design help? (The impossible-to-overlook similarity to nymag.com and nytimes.com makes me think there's a small cabal of black-on-white designers in nyc.)

Nick Valvo44 09 2007 3:44AM

It is interesting that they have floated comics in the articles on the web site as one would expect in the magazine. I haven't gotten my newest yet to check if the article/comic pairings are the same.

That is either a really interesting development in terms of how we think of print material on the web or maybe just a nostalgic retro thing.

Michael Barrish47 09 200710:47AM

In a rather extraordinary feat of print-based thinking, they managed to avoid indicating a single link, aside from the main nav links and a few others indicated by context. I don't know, perhaps they consider this as a "value-added" feature: In addition to reading interesting articles, you get to play a game of "find the link."

judson08 09 200711:08AM

It looks like the Morning News
It looks like everything

Maaike16 09 200711:16AM

I like it somewhat, but the pages are a bit too full for me. Also the line-height really is too small and the homepage layout breaks slightly in Ubuntu Firefox. And WHY don't they use sIFR?
Still, I don't not like it :-)

Phil08 09 200712:08PM

I think a lot of these critiques are valid- nevertheless, it's such a glacial step beyond the previous site that any carping seems a little like nitpicking.

Carl43 09 200712:43PM

They need to buy "THEnewyorker.com" already (if they can).
That's the title of the magazine, and that's usually what I type in first whenever I want to go to their site.

Jon P.45 09 2007 1:45PM

Looks like a fair number of the main pages on the site seems to validate properly now.

Steve Rhodes52 09 2007 1:52PM

I'm glad the links will be fixed soon, but umm, why didn't they just wait to launch until everything worked (and tested it well enough to make sure).

the links on this page on memorable movies of 2006 are currently a disaster

newyorker.com/archive/2006/12/18/061218on_onlineonly01

And I hope they don't just have the brief reviews they put up in their "film file" section. There shold be links to the full reviews which are online (and related articles if available).

Emma27 09 2007 6:27PM

"The front page doesn't validate as XHTML 1.0 Transitional. But the errors are pretty minor...<br> instead of <br />, not using the proper entity for the ampersand, uppercase anchor tags and the like."

good lord man get out of the house!!

Michael Bishop53 10 2007 4:53PM

The new New Yorker site reminds me of Salons early days; very similar to its original look and feel.

Maya52 12 200710:52AM

i'm dying here. why do people even check for W3C validation errors? if the site works on most browsers and hand-held devices, who gives a fly if it validates or not?

jkottke23 12 200711:23AM

There are differing views on the value of validation. There's a well-known axiom in sofware development called Postel's Law. Its states that one should "be conservative in what you do; be liberal in what you accept from others". Most web browsers are very forgiving in what they accept for input and we should try to uphold our end of the bargain. As the above article notes, that can be difficult...the front page of my site doesn't validate either. Most of the errors pertain to unescaped URLs and a few invalid tag errors because my CMS doesn't deal with lists properly (it nests them in a <p> tag when it shouldn't).

JP42 12 2007 2:42PM

What do you mean by "doesn't validate either"? The New Yorker front page is now showing as valid.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.

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